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Cyber Harassment, Media Freedoms Take Lead at Social Media Conference

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Social Media users and regulators on Thursday met at the Kampala Serena Hotel to deliberate issues affecting media, facts, freedoms and rights of users.

This was at the Uganda social media conference, an event that was organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KASUganda)

Among the many issues discussed, misuse of social media through cyber harassment, invasion of privacy and extortion through blackmail were pointed out by the regulators.

Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson and Director Uganda Media Center said social media users especially news websites and bloggers are currently the most unethical people.

Ofwono noted that blackmail and invasion of privacy especially on women celebrities are threatening the credibility and morality of Ugandans in the eyes of the world.

Philip Ogola, a Kenyan digital humanitarian, best known for using social media in emergency responses in Kenya during the 2013 west gate mall attack said Uganda and Africa continue to use social media to degrade Africa instead of promoting it to the rest of the world

“There is a lot we can achieve on social media. Right now, internet is just being misused for degrading women and conning innocent teenagers who end up in gang rape,” he said.

“As a humanitarian I have seen a lot of bad vices that are aggravated on social media. However there is much that we can do as well. Start campaigns that improve our societies.”

He added; “the internet has a lot of power. You are able to reach the entire world by using just your computer.”

“Instead of wasting this opportunity watching useless videos and downloading things that do not help us, why can’t we change and use it for the betterment of ourselves and the society we live in,” Ogola wondered.

Mathias Kamp, the head of offices KAS Uganda said the conference which will be held annually is intended to sharpen the use of social media in Africa with a shift from just entertainment to using it to change the social, economic and political development of the country.

“Social media has powers that even the strongest dictator cannot control. If we use it correctly, we can hold our leaders and governments accountable,” he said.

“Apart from that, we can use it to start for ourselves jobs, market ourselves and do many more developmental things. That is why we endeavored to organize this function in partnership with other companies that have helped us organize it success fully,” he added.

Kamp urged the attendants to put in practice what was discussed and help change their lives.

“I don’t want us to be discussing the same thing when we come here next year, it should be to discuss more developmental things other than feminism and nudity,” Kamp said.

Blogger Ian Ortega said that people must understand social media cannot be judged on the principals of traditional media because it’s intended to give diverse opinions openly.

He asked government to take advantage of the mixed information on social media to make changes for development in the society instead of hunting down social media users.

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